Instore - June 2018 - 36
Hot to-go soups can be a high-margin, labor-friendly option for grocery
retailers, according to Blount. Photo: Blount Fine Foods
Private label, Panera, Blount's own brand - the more variety within a
given retailer's deli department, Sewall says, the better. With all three,
a retailer has the opportunity to run, say, an ad for Panera one week,
one for private label the next, one for Blount the next. That builds
momentum, he says, and keeps category sales rolling. "It drives more
people to the deli," Sewall says.
The benefits of the soup category for instore delis are many, Sewall
says. A soup program is easy to execute, it's not labor-intensive and
the margins are good. Still, he admits it has its challenges, given the
constant downward price pressure on retail foods. That explains
Blount's relentless drive to develop new products to give its retail
partners an edge.
And to be successful, it's critical to have a close partnership between
supplier and retailer, Sewall says. For instance, customers in one part
of the country may have seasonal soup needs customers in another
part of the country, where they don't even think in terms of "soup seasons," don't have. Working together gives you a better chance of keeping an edge on your competitors - and keeping your margins high.
"We're working hard with our customers to help set them apart," he
says. "You have to keep continually providing quality to ensure that
you don't have to drop the price. We're a firm believer in that. People
will spend more for a better product."
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Demand for Blount's new noodle and rice bowls, meanwhile, is "growing more and more each month," Sewall says. "It's outperforming
what we thought it would do the first six months." In addition to the
new poke bowl introduced this spring, Blount will seek to expand the
bowl line to encompass more ethnic flavors and to enhance its status
as a convenient snacking option.
In addition to the new poke bowl, the line includes four products:
Chicken Ramen, Hibachi Chicken & Rice (gluten-free), Coconut
Chicken & Noodle and Asian-inspired Vegetable & Rice (vegan and
gluten-free). The bowls bring together two strong industry trends,
Sewall says: desire for innovative international flavors and recipes;
and ever-growing demand for healthier and more convenient meals.
The growth in ancient grains is another trend Blount is capitalizing
on. In the past two years the company has introduced an ancient grain
minestrone refrigerated soup for retail, an organic vegan soup that
features vegetables along with barley, farro and quinoa.
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36 * JUNE 2018 * commissary INSIDER